Worldwide Travel Adventure Summit

According to Wikipedia, the sage on all facts either alternative or actual, a cult can be defined as follows:

1. A system of religious veneration and devotion directed towards a particular figure or object. “the cult of St Olaf”

2. A person or thing that is popular or fashionable among a particular group or section of society.

The definition, therefore, is broadly applicable to the lovefest masquerading as a travel conference that is the Worldwide Travel Adventure Summit, held in Salta Argentina in October of 2017. 

Take a community of  a 1000 worldwide tourism business owners, marketing people, adventure travel writers and techies. Place them in conditions imminently suitable for revelry, networking, learning and sharing. Ply them with Argentinian red wine, sweeten them up with Dulce de Lece and placate them with Empanadas. Assault their senses with music from all over the world, inspiring tales of courage, perseverance and extraordinary charity from famous adventurers, global misfits and incessant do-gooders.

Educate them on industry trends, environmental impact, technology accellerators, new destinations, old destinations with sexy new outfits.

Finally, infuse them with a persistent and urelenting sense of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), and inspire them to travel more, do more, see more, grow more and share more.

The South African contingent that participated in this year's summit included delegates from all over the country, offering itineraries that included bike tours, river rafting, hiking, wildlife viewing, shark cage diving, whale watching, volunteering, surfing, running, ziplining and team building. And then there was me. The guy that likes to go fine dining.

We were a lucky bunch to be able to attend. Our participation also included a pre-summit adventure, as well as a day of adventure.

But THAT. That is a whole different blog.

Suffice it to say, I am inspired that Africa generally, and South Africa particularly, will stay on the wishlist of global travelers, and we are well placed to ride a boom of visitors and the associated employment and economic opportunities.  We are luck to work in the industry, and I am inspired to persist with our social initiatives through Boot Camp, to expand our product portfolio to take advantage of the networks build and to help attract even more interest to our fine shores.

Religious veneration of travel? You betcha!

A visit to Cape Town’s hottest new attraction: Zeitz MOCAA

If you didn’t know what MOCAA is – the Museum of Contemporary African Art. First of its kind, first in Africa. This is good stuff, even for a cultural philistine like myself.

Let’s backtrack. A few years ago the V&A Waterfront significantly upped their game in terms of strategic initiatives to expand its product. There have many big wins for us in the tourism industry – the Red Shed, the Food Market, the Oranjezicht farmers market, the Big Wheel… but now they have hit it out of the park.

The dilapidated old grain silos, which were essentially – and historically – an eyesore, have been transformed into a world class business precinct, an uber luxury hotel and… a museum to match the Guggenheim, the Tate and the Prado.

The Silo Hotel is THE hot new spot in Cape Town. It shared the building with the museum, and you can actually look down from the deck outside the restaurant down into the museum atrium – which has been designed in the shape of a piece of grain (believe it) to majestic proportions. The initial exhibit is a dragon African style. The effect of this exhibit, contextualized in a modern cathedral of impressive contradiction, assaults you visually much in the same way anyone feels by round 5 in the ring with Floyd Mayweather. That’s art talk. Except for the bit of Mayweather.

The powerhouse German businessman and philantropist that seeded the collection is Jochen Zeitz – google him and be impressed.

The guys doing the talking at the launch had me spellbound too. I get why the Waterfront is doing so well – CEO David Green clearly know what he’s doing, and the architect Thomas Heatherwick? That chap is one of those people that I theoretically would have on my list for a dream dinner party.

A big thanks and kudos to Chantelle Cole, strategic projects manager from the Waterfront, who arranged for Caroline and myself to attend this special pre-viewing. The museum opens on the 22nd, tickets are R180 and we are immediately adding this as an optional activity on our city tour offering.


PG YEAR 1: 2009 – The Year of the Rugby

There has been a bit of a revival in the fortunes of the Springboks this year – the proof will be in the pudding, of course, as we head into the Australisian leg of the Tri-Nations, but so far so good. 2009 was a similiar sort of year – Snorre was in his second year in charge, his first year was less than stellar but the next year he dominated by winning both the Tri-Nations and the Lions Tour. That year, Province narrowly lost a home semi-final in the Currie Cup to the Bulls, who were also Super Rugby champions that year.

I remember it fondly, as I watched a number of Currie Cup, Super Rugby and Springbok games that year – PROFESSIONALLY.

Now you might ask, how does one become a professional rugby watcher? Well, let me break it down for you.

I started doing my marketing to the youth travel sector in December of 2008… it was rough going, as people were generally suspicious of a newcomer, even one as obviously charming and trustworthy as myself. I realized that for wine tours, peninsula tours, even city tours everyone already had a trusted supplier and it was tough to break in. So I had to come up with a new plan.

Concurrently, I was once again single on Valentines Day, and as it happened there was a Stormers Sharks game at Newlands -and hey presto. I arranged an event including boerewors on a gas braai, beers and brandewyn for about 30 of my closest friends. What a party. We lost the game, but it occurred to me that was incidental to the fun we had. I had rediscovered my childhood favourite spot at the Groote Schuur primary school rugby fields, where fans from all ages, creeds and colours gathered to braai, talk and have fun.

So the next week the Stormers played the Reds on a Friday night. I bought a few tickets and said maybe I could market this as an event. “You are not a thought leader, and it is a Friday night – people don’t go to rugby on a Friday night,” hissed my sister, betting me I could not sell the tickets. I took up the challenge, which ended in a draw. I did sell half the tickets, but the other half I gave away to industry colleagues and potential agents. A fun time was had regardless, and we were on our way.

Over the following two months I would attend a couple more games in the same fashion – and found a rich vein of support from backpackers in Long Street, Dutch volunteers and American students. We watched rugby, we listened to Kurt Darren, we had a blast.

Around this time, the British and Irish Lions cruised into town. This 12 match tour came with about 20,000 touring supporters, and all hell broke loose. I looked after the KUDUS, and they were in my charge for more than 3.5 weeks. Over the course of that time we traveled up and down the country, watched 9 games of rugby in four different stadiums including three tests, and built memories and friendships to last a lifetime. Among the highlights were meeting Danie Gerber at the Port Elizabeth police rugby club, winning the series at Loftus and misadventures with lost luggage. What a great group, and I look forward to seeing them again in four years!

After the euphoric Lions Tour and some liver recovery time, it was back to the business of hosting rugby braais. It was the turn of the Currie Cup, and the Western Province did not disappoint – making it all the way to the semi-final where a moment of madness from that Fijian winger cost us our spot in the final. As was often the theme of those years, it was the Bulls that did us in. They were a champion team and went on to add the Currie Cup to the Super Rugby trophy.

It was a brilliant time for me. We watched another six games of Currie Cup rugby at Newlands including the semis, I hosted some brilliant people and had a lot of fun in the process.

This year, there were not braais at Newlands. The authorities shut down the environment to beers and braais, so what was a glorious time in the early days is now officially over. I still go to the games, I still host guests (at my house these days) but I no longer troll Long Street for takers or entertain mates at the games. The Bulls are absolutely terrible, the Stormers/Province still do ok without being amazing, and the Springboks… well, they were glorious in 2009, lets see what 2017 brings.

In the meantime,  I will be celebrating national braai day with some friends, a few dogs and the missus. Probably watching the rugger on telly. Braai day in a different guise, but still one of our best traditions!

Q&A with Imogen McCormick-Matthews

What is your role at PG Tops?


What do you enjoy most about your job?

Assisting people from around the world in putting together a once-in-a-life time trip to our beautiful country; it is very special. Being a part of big life events such as engagements, honeymoons, birthdays and reunions is amazing!

What makes PG Tops unique?

PG Tops offers a completely customised and personal service to clients.

What is your favorite PG Tops tour and why?

I used to work as a field guide in the Eastern Cape and as much as I love the city, the bush will always be a special place, so a safari is always my favourite.

What is your ultimate travel destination in South Africa?

South Africa is so diverse and each area offers something so different to the next, so it’s hard to pick just one. However, having said that Cape Town offers pretty much everything so if you only have a short amount of time in South Africa, a trip to the Mother City is a must.

What are the top three destinations on your bucket list?


Bora Bora


If you could have dinner with any woman in the world, who would it be?

My mom. My parents live in the UK and even though I normally see them about twice a year, an extra dinner (preferably cooked by my mom) would always be nice.

What women in the travel and tourism industry inspire you?

I have so much respect for women who guide. It’s a role that’s male-dominated and sometimes presents challenges from lifting heavy bags, changing tyres and convincing guests you can drive the big vehicle in front of them.

What is the best career advice you have been given?

Never give up. If someone says you can’t do something, prove them wrong and pursue your dreams.

What is your favourite motivational quote?

“Life is a journey and only you hold the map.”

If you could only pack five things for a trip, what would they be?




My two dogs!

Q&A with Danielle Janse van Rensburg


What is your role at PG Tops?

Tour facilitator.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

My dual role of consultant and tour guide. I never get sick of one job because I have the best of both worlds.

What makes PG Tops unique?

Obi, our friendly PG Tops mascot (Pieter’s Labrador) and reason to smile when stuck in the office all day.

What is your favourite PG Tops tour and why?

Winelands, because it’s a stunning area, filled with lots of hidden gems, nature, hikes, local markets, amazing wine and delicious food. All my favourite things.

What is your ultimate travel destination in South Africa?

Sodwana Bay.

What are the top three destinations on your bucket list?

Fiji, India and all of South America.

If you could have dinner with any woman in the world, who would it be?

Amelia Earhart.

What women in the travel and tourism industry inspire you?

Bianca Smith – she is a rockstar consultant!

What is the best career advice you have been given?

The best service you can give starts with listening.

Who is your role model and why?

My mother – she’s been through thick and thin and still rocks out every day with a smile.

What is your favourite motivational quote?

“Just keep swimming” – Dory

If you could only pack five things for a trip, what would they be?

Toothbrush and four pairs of clean underwear. 😊

Q&A with Bianca Smith

1. What is your role at PG Tops?

Overseeing staff, handling HR, banking and consulting.

2. What do you enjoy most about your job?

Creating/ building new and exciting itineraries for clients.

3. What makes PG Tops unique?

The flexibility of our tours, our guides and the speed of replying upon consultation.

4. What is your favourite PG Tops tour and why?

Peninsula! There’s just so much to see and the best part is driving around at Cape Point looking for animals.

5. What is your ultimate travel destination in South Africa?

Narina Lodge, Kruger.

6. What are the top three destinations on your bucket list?

  • Namibia
  • Botswana
  • Mozambique

7. If you could have dinner with any woman in the world, who would it be?

Kate Hudson – I often hear that I look like her.

8. What women in the travel and tourism industry inspire you?

All my lovely lady colleagues in the office – Imogen, Monade, Danielle & Lauren.

9. What is the best career advice you have been given?

Under promise and over deliver.

10. What is your favourite motivational quote?

Life is the art of drawing without an eraser.

11. If you could only pack five things for a trip, what would they be?

Underwear, mascara, phone, charger and wallet.

Q&A with Lauren-Lee Isaacs

1. What is your role at PG Tops?

My main role is called Control Tower and it basically means that I’m in charge of the schedule and making sure that all the bookings display the correct information. I make sure that each client has a guide and a vehicle allocated to it. I am also a consultant.

2. What do you enjoy most about your job?

The people I work with; there is not a day that goes by that we don’t have a good laugh. Also, the educationals (experiencing the places we send clients first hand). But my job is very challenging (which I like) and it’s very rewarding when a client gives you a good review because then you know you’ve delivered a great service.

3. What makes PG Tops unique?

Well, I don’t think there is anything specific that makes us unique as there are so many places out there that do what we do. I think the difference though is that we do it better.

4. What is your favourite PG Tops tour and why?

The Cape Canopy Tour. I’d do it again and again and again because it’s just so much fun and I kind of think it’s a good stress reliever. I also love Hermanus and the drive going there. I feel like it’s our own little Hamptons.

5. What is your ultimate travel destination in South Africa?

If I could choose to go anywhere in South Africa, it would have to be Grootbos, Gansbaai, we were recently treated to an overnight educational and it was amazing.

6. What are the top three destinations on your bucket list?

Turkey, Cuba and Chile. Turkey for the Turkish Delight, Cuba for the Cuban Cigars and Chile for the Chinchorro mummies.

7. If you could have dinner with any woman in the world, who would it be?

Ellen Degeneres. I think she’s hilarious but is also a great ambassador for women all over the world.

8. What women in the travel and tourism industry inspire you?

It would have to be one of my tourism lecturers, Lesley Badenhorst. She played a very important role in getting me to where I am today.

9. What is the best career advice you have been given?

Perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you’ve already done.

10. Who is your role model and why?

My role model is not a woman but my father.

11. What is your favourite motivational quote?

‘’I believe in pink; I believe that laughter is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything else is going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another and day and I believe in miracles.’’ (Audrey Hepburn)

12. If you could only pack five things for a trip, what would they be?

If I were going on an island vacation, I would take a good book, iPod, a camera, sunglasses, flip-flops and suntan lotion.

Q&A with Monade van Eeden

1. What is your role at PG Tops?

PG Tops reservations team leader & consultant.

2. What do you enjoy most about your job?

Working with my awesome colleagues.

3. What makes PG Tops unique

Thinking out of the box when consulting and having an awesome boss like Pieter.

4. What is your favourite PG Tops tour and why?

Cape Peninsula tour as it covers such a large area of our beautiful city.

5. What is your ultimate travel destination in South Africa?


6. What are the top three destinations on your bucket list?

Vietnam, Bali & Greece.

7. If you could have dinner with any woman in the world, who would it be?

Jennifer Aniston. I would like to know what hair products she uses. 😊

8. What women in the travel and tourism industry inspire you?

My sister, Eunice, and all my fellow colleagues. Girl power!

9. What is the best career advice you have been given?

If you’re offered a seat on a rocket ship, don’t ask what seat, just get on!

10. Who is your role model and why?

My dad. He always gives the best advice – even if I don’t want to hear it.

11. What is your favourite motivational quote?

Do not let the behaviour of others destroy your inner peace.

12. If you could only pack five things for a trip, what would they be?

Sunglasses, a Deon Meyer book, wet wipes, credit card and passport.

Tourism Boot Camp

We launched T.B.C. – Tourism Boot Camp – at the PG TOPS HQ in August 2017.

The first intake of five interns commenced on Monday 31 July, and are following a rigorous 6 week program aimed at rapid upskilling and critical thinking in a framework of Cape Town bespoke touring.

Interns are chosen on the basis of having a base education in tourism from some form of tertiary institution, but are not yet gainfully employed. T.B.C. aims to leverage the core skill sets in the PG TOPS full time team, coupled with assistance from industry partners, to introduce these interns to the competitive environment of tourism.

Once trained over six weeks, the interns will complete their training in job shadowing roles either at PG TOPS or at industry partners. The aim is to produce motivated, technically skilled and systems prepared individuals that can easily slot into any establishments environment.

For further details on this program, please contact Pieter Geldenhuys on 021-380 0266 or


Fine Dining Cape Town: Top of the Pops

Previously published on the Luxury Safaris blog.

Over time, four spots have established them as the trendiest fine dining spots in Cape Town. In trendy industrial Woodstock at the Old Biscuit Mill, Luke Dale Roberts has established the iconic Pot Luck Club and Test Kitchen. On the other side of the mountain in lush Constantia, La Colombe and the Green House are the traditional favourites.

I tend to run, cycle and chase my dog around a lot just to burn off the calories from all this good eating. I have personally tried all four spots with the missus this last year, and here’s my cheat sheet to help you decide which ones you want to shoot for during your holiday in Cape Town.

I have rated the four of them 1 to 5 on the following key criteria:

  1. Risk of narcolepsy
  2. I like my extras
  3. I don’t know what I’m eating
  4. I come here often
  5. I want to take pictures of this food
  6. I’m fancy but I’m also kinda tight
  7. This place is harder to get into than Augusta
  8. I’m a vegetarian
  9. I want to show up in shorts
  10. Where the hell did my waiter go?

Ready? Here we go. Notes to follow:

ITEM La Colombe Test Kitchen Pot Luck Club Green House
1.       Narco 3 1 5 3
2.       Extras 4 5 1 4
3.       What? 4 5 3 4
4.       Return 3 1 5 1
5.       Pics 5 5 3 5
6.       $$$ 2 1 5 3
7.       Booking 5 1 3 5
8.       Fussy 3 3 5 3
9.       Casual 1 1 5 1
10.   Service 5 5 4 5
TOTAL 35 28 39 34

Importantly, everyone except Pot Luck do set menus with tasting options as a standard. Pot Luck wins hands down in terms of access, vibe and flexible menu. But it depends on what your goal is. Test Kitchen might be top of the ratings, but it’s the one of the four that I’ll only go back to in a couple of years. Just takes too long…  In terms of the other criteria, let me elaborate:


TO the chagrin of my girlfriend, I like to take power naps in the middle of conversations. This is a very detrimental quality when you are in the middle of a 4 hour dining extravaganza at the Test Kitchen, but can be somewhat better managed at the tapas style dining at Pot Luck. You can be in and out of there relatively quickly, usually about 2 hours.


I didn’t even know what an Amuse-bouche was before I started hitting these high-end places. All of the spots do the little bits and pieces well, but Test Kitchen knocks the lights out with their two-room-lets-do-cocktails-we-serve-almost-everything-with-foam-now approach. Its more a show than a dinner. At Pot Luck you get what you pay for. The Constantia spots do it well, but less of a production than Test Kitchen.


If we assume the goal is to give you a heavenly meal made up of ingredients you’ve never heard of and starring a bird or a fish caught in some obscure rockpool in southern Denmark and crossbred with a local trout, then Test Kitchen comes out on tops. As the night progresses and the tasting menu kicks in, and depending on the amount of foam you get hit with, it becomes harder to even remember what you were eating. La Colombe consistently does basics well, Green House and Test Kitchen are more challenging for the journeyman. Pot Luck is less intimidating, but they still do chickpea fries instead of just chips. Delicious though.


Pot Luck sees me a lot. But the I suffer from massive food envy, and it doesn’t matter what I’m eating, I always want your meal. So tapas style dining works for me. Also, it’s the only one of the four with that trendy-city-lights-have-a-craft-beer-while-you-wait vibe. Elevated on the 6th floor it offers more of a view, which is always something I look for. La Colombe is where I will take the missus on the anniversary, Test Kitchen and Green House sees me about once every two years just so I can check out their latest menu.


Yep, in the age of Instagram, twits and tweets and Facebook bloggers, we now whip out the smartphone to capture the magnificence of our meal so our mates can be jealous.

I sometimes want to just go print out 10 pics of my beautifully presented port shavings with foam starter and hand deliver it to a few mates. Would make more sense, but they’d probably slap me.

This is a hard one. Everyone does it well, but the standard of presentation is so high at the others that Pot Luck does fall short.


Look, if you’re jetting in from the Big Apple you will probably still giggle at the quality/pricing ratio and order another bottle of champers. For us mere mortal South Africans, the Test Kitchen including tip equates to minimum wage for a month in this country. La Colombe and Green House tasting menus are about 40% less, and Pot Luck is the most affordable. But it does depend on how heavy handed you are on the vino, I suppose.

If you want to have some great food but aren’t that hungry, Pot Luck or La Colombe (you can also do a la carte here). Pot Luck, due to the nature of the menu, will be your cheapest date.


One day I will tee off on the hallowed fairways of distant Georgia. In the meantime, I am prepping for that mission by trying to regularly get a booking at the Test Kitchen for clients.

This is the way it works: At 8am sharp on the 1st of the month, you hit the online booking engine with all your resources. You get your consultants, your friends, your retired mother and the dog to all jump online and try to secure bookings, because the Test Kitchen sells out for the next month within 5 minutes. You can only book one month in advance. And of course because everyone in the world and Cape Town wants to get themselves or their clients into the number 22 rated restaurant in the world (no 1 in South Africa) the site keeps crashing. You get a booking you put down some cash by credit card.

The others all have booking systems as well- but Green House and La Colombe you can book way in advance, and Pot Luck has two seatings in the evening so generally more availability.


I’m a carnivore, but lots of my clients are not. I’ve checked in with my veggie friend Chantelle, and we’re on the same page here: Pot Luck is the best for this. The others with set menus do a good job of accommodating vegetarians, but you do feel like you miss out.


Cape Town is generally quite a casual place, and for lunch you could probably wing it at all of them. But for dinner, the only one of these spots I would dare to show up with anything less than my skinny jeans is Pot Luck. And even there, I generally err on the side of caution.

Having said that, the guys aren’t strict on this. The St Anton mafia were my guests a few years ago, and these chaps have long since passed the point of caring what people think of them. So yeah… you can show up in shorts…


Service is sharp at all of these spots. Pot Luck I had an average server experience the other day, but this was just a slight anomaly. To their credit, the manager saw our guy was struggling and stepped in.


If I had to recommend one, I still favour La Colombe for pure dining pleasure and bang for your buck. If you want full experiential, Test Kitchen is quite special. But Pot Luck comes out on top in terms of my points criteria, simply because the food is delicious, you have more flexibility in options and the view is spectacular.